Archive for the ‘books’ Category

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Dwell Deep, or Hilda Thorn’s Life Story

July 28, 2014

So, apparently Grace Livingston Hill’s brand of religion makes me want to go read about Amy Le Feuvre’s brand of religion. And I suppose it serves me right that Dwell Deep is more Hill-like that any Le Feuvre book I’ve read to date. It’s the story of Hilda Thorn, a young woman who moves in with her guardian’s family, who have little tolerance for her religious scruples.

I think the fact that she was converted before the story begins was part of what bugged me, although I guess it saved me one of Le Feuvre’s weirdly unsatisfactory conversion scenes. I also wasn’t wild about the first person narration, although I eventually got used to it. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Soliciting opinions on things

July 21, 2014

First of all, I had a “wow, the banner i created in 2007 using my minimal Photoshop skills is kind of terrible-looking” moment this morning. Is that just me, or…?

The other thing is that I’ve been looking through one of my many lists of books to read, and it’s kind of overwhelming. So, regular readers of this blog, what’s the one book you feel like I should have reviewed, but haven’t?

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The Turned-About Girls

July 21, 2014

Cathlin recently recommended The Turned-About Girls, by Beulah Marie Dix, and it was already sort of in the back of my head, because someone else — Mel? — was reading it recently. And I’ve been reading a whole string of things trying to avoid reading any more of Bulldog Drummond, so I started it almost immediately. And it’s really, really good. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Up the Hill and Over

July 18, 2014

When I start reading a book and the protagonist is a doctor recovering from a nervous breakdown, and he comes to a small town and settles down to practice small town medicine incognito and becomes interested in the daughter of the previous town doctor, I’m pretty sure I know exactly what I’m getting. In the case of Up the Hill and Over, by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay, I was very wrong. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Hilda Wade, a Woman with Tenacity of Purpose

July 8, 2014

I never wrote anything about Hilda Wade, did I?

So, obviously I’m pretty into Miss Cayley’s Adventures. So into it that I was kind of terrified of reading anything else by Grant Allen, which is why Hilda Wade has been languishing on my Kindle (and then my other Kindle) for several years. I shouldn’t have worried, though. Hilda Wade is good and bad in almost exactly the same ways as Miss Cayley’s Adventures is good and bad. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Just in case anyone’s wondering what I’ve been up to…

June 11, 2014

I tried to read the first Game of Thrones book last month (maybe last month? it seems like longer ago) and failed out of it 80% of the way through. I’ve been recovering by reading Georgette Heyer, and I’m not done yet.

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Two Shall be Born

May 20, 2014

I mostly avoid reading Marie Conway Oemler books I haven’t read before — I dread the point at which there won’t be any left I haven’t read. So I’ve been putting off reading Two Shall Be Born for, like, five years at least.

I don’t know if it was worth waiting for. I don’t, at this point, expect any book of hers to live up to Slippy McGee or A Woman Named Smith, and this one certainly doesn’t. But that’s not to say it isn’t pretty interesting and weird, and that’s all I really want, I guess. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Annals of Ann

May 9, 2014

Mel was reading this one, and it sounded interesting, but I don’t think it’s for me.

The Annals of Ann is by Kate Trimble Sharber, who a quick google search told me nothing about. But the book itself is pretty straightforward: Ann is a teenager who lives somewhere in the South with her parents and her mammy, and she uses her diary mostly to talk about her various acquaintances pairing off.

The book is one of those teenage girl diary ones where the author is relying heavily on the reader getting jokes that the narrator doesn’t. And that’s worked for me approximately once, in The Visits of Elizabeth. The rest of the time I find it a little irritating and uncomfortable. If you like that kind of thing, I think this is probably a pretty good version of it. I wasn’t tempted to put it down or anything. I just kind of resent it when authors are like, “hey let’s have a joke on the protagonist of my novel together.”

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Discussion group!

May 5, 2014

I’ve created a Google Group because a) it seemed like the best compromise between a forum and a mailing list and b) I’m pretty familiar with the back end.

So, don’t feel obligated to participate, but if you want, head over and introduce yourself.

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Anyone interested in a message board/mailing list?

April 30, 2014

Nell S. and I have been talking about the possibility of a place to discuss…whatever it is I  write about and we talk about here. I usually refer to it as “outdated popular fiction.” We were initially talking about a message board, but message boards intimidate me, so now we’re also talking about a Google/Yahoo group-style mailing list.

My thoughts are basically as follows: I’ve moderated Google Groups, and they’re super easy to use and allow you to participate in discussions via email but don’t really let you organize or preserve information in any useful way (although GG does have tagging and categories). And if you do participate via email, it’s hard to avoid spoilers.

Message boards let you organize things via category, which is nice, but I find them inherently kind of clunky. And it’s hard to read everything on a message board the way you can when you’ve got everything on a mailing list coming to your inbox.

It seems like there’s a lot more discussion going on here lately, and that’s awesome, but blog comments aren’t the best place to talk. So: are you guys interested in some kind of discussion space? Any preferences on type?

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The Enchanted Barn

April 24, 2014

Cloudy Jewel isn’t on the shelf I thought it might be on, which means it’s in a box at my mom’s house, waiting to be moved to my apartment. So I continued my exploration of the work of Grace Livingston Hill with The Enchanted Barn. The Enchanted Barn is the story of a young secretary, Shirley Hollister, who needs to find a cheap home for her family for the summer, and ends up renting a stone barn.

First things first: at one point in this book, Shirley is reading  From the Car Behind. I’m not trying to cast aspersions on The Enchanted Barn when I say that that was genuinely the most exciting moment for me. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Aunt Crete’s Emancipation

April 15, 2014

When I get in a certain kind of mood, there’s nothing that I want more than stories about downtrodden people being showered with care and nice things and the people who have been metaphorically treading on them having that shoved in their faces. And Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, by Grace Livingston Hill, is the distilled essence of that. And you guys know me pretty well, I guess, because a number of you have recommended it to me over the past few years. It’s my own fault for not giving in and reading it sooner. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Year of Delight

April 14, 2014

Mel happened to be reading this one when I said I wanted a Cinderella book, and something that was like The Blue Castle but wasn’t The Blue Castle, and recommended it. And Margaret Widdemer’s The Year of Delight is very definitely both of those things, and if Margaret Widdemer can’t stop her characters from coercing each other into being married…well, it bothers me a lot less when the person being coerced is the man. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Peter the Brazen

April 9, 2014

I’m finally done with Peter the Brazen, and I feel I can say definitively now that it is the worst. The worst. I hardly know what else to say about it, or how to catalog its various failings.

I thought I was going to enjoy this book. Peter Moore is a wireless operator, and he’s the best wireless operator. He can hear things no one else can hear, and other wireless operator recognize…I don’t know, the inflections of his Morse code, or something. And he doesn’t have a lean, sardonic countenance, but he does have a tendency to smile inappropriately, which practically amounts to the same thing. So, all of that boded well. And I was prepared for some racism, because this is the kind of book where the existence of actual Asian people is completely irrelevant to the glamour of Asia. But in general I thought that this book wouldn’t be very good, but that I would enjoy it.

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. Read the rest of this entry ?

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What would your ideal early 20th century novel be like?

April 7, 2014

I’m in a mood where I want to read something like The Blue Castle or Gertrude Haviland’s Divorce or A Woman Named Smith, but with less nature imagery and more domesticity and no mummies. Something with a spinster defying her horrible family somehow, and making friends with a cranky guy with a secret insane wife. I would like them to get along really well as friends before they fall in love, and for there to be a happy ending without the secret insane wife having to die. Actually, I’d like for the heroine to make friends with the secret insane wife.

Or, wait. This would be super cool: The heroine is the secret insane wife, but she’s not all that insane, and she runs off and takes a job somewhere and slowly learns to be awesome at it. That is the book I would like to read. If there could also be a lot of detail about exactly how much money she’s making, and what she does with it, as well as a lot of descriptions of really excellent clothing, that would be great. Wherever the heroine lands there would be a lot of museum-quality furniture and a library for me to be jealous of, and sympathetic people for her to make friends with, and eventually her awful family and/or husband would have their noses rubbed in her excellent new life. There doesn’t even have to be romance, although it would be a plus.

If you could concoct an late 19th or early 20th century novel to suit your tastes, what would it be about? And does anyone have a spinster-remaking-herself story to recommend?

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